What to Expect From Your Body in Your First Trimester of Pregnancy

Updated on March 31, 2018
VVanNess profile image

Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, blogger at Healthy at Home, and educator. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

Ten weeks and 4 days pregnant with my first child
Ten weeks and 4 days pregnant with my first child | Source

Pregnancy is such a wonderful thing! Of course, you probably feel like you were hit by a truck, and that’s reasonable with all that is going on inside your body right now, but it’s all normal. My husband thinks I’m funny because I notice each and every change right away. I delight in my back aches, my nausea and my left-hand tingling knowing that’s it’s a sign that I’m pregnant! I think I would be more worried if I felt fine and didn’t have any symptoms.

Over 78% of couples in the United States desire to have children (or even more children) but are struggling. My husband and I tried for two years until we found success. On top of that, almost half of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage, although many of those happen before a woman even realizes that she was ever pregnant.

For the time being, being pregnant is a blessing and I’m going to enjoy every ache, every pain, and every symptom as another successful day.

Let’s look at what you might be experiencing during your first trimester!

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Larger, Much More Sensitive Chest

Normally this will happen at the end of your cycle, right before your period starts, as your body is filling with progesterone and estrogen. You may remember this.

But without your period coming to drop those hormones back down and give your body a break, your chest will keep swelling and stretching, and therefore will continue to be sore.

At this point, your body is acting on other instincts. It’s preparing for a baby. So swelling and soreness aren’t the only things you might see in this area. Expect color changes, veins, and a host of other strange characteristics for the first few months.

Your body is pumping tons of extra blood to this area and preparing your chest for another purpose. For the next nine months, these will not just be decoration anymore.

Thankfully, this will start subsiding in the second trimester as your body will settle into the changes happening to you and the soreness will likely go away.

First trimester pregnancy symptoms
First trimester pregnancy symptoms | Source

Swelling Stomach and Cramps

Although this seems like an early time to see and stomach growth from your pregnancy, every woman is different. Especially if you were slender before conception, you may begin seeing growth a little earlier.

However, this is more likely bloating from other fun things happening around this time. Like a full bladder, which we’ll discuss in a little bit, and possible constipation.

There are so many new things happening in your body right now to cause these things.

The swelling, cramping, and other stomach symptoms are due to initial implantation of your fertilized egg, increased blood flow to your pelvic area (understandably), the build-up of your uterine lining, and your uterus growing as your little one is growing.

Your body is taking care of another human being now. You are growing a placenta for your new baby, developing an umbilical cord, and creating a human being.

You will be feeling a great deal of new feelings in this area for nine months. Don’t be too worried unless the pain becomes unbearable (which may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy or other problem), or you see severe bleeding, or bleeding for several days.

Light spotting once or twice, or even after intimacy, is fine, and period-type cramping is normal as well. If either of these gets out of hand though, immediately see your doctor or go to the ER.

Increased Need to Pee

Having to run to the bathroom a great deal, day and night, is also another common pregnancy characteristic.

My husband totally didn’t understand. He thought this wasn’t supposed to happen until my stomach was large and I had a baby pressing on my bladder.

The truth is, the worst of this pressure is during the first trimester AND the last, as these are the times when your body is working the hardest.

Right now, your body is starting to produce a great deal more bodily fluids to prepare for the little one you are growing, and your kidneys have pumped up their efficiency a great deal to remove the waste from your body that much faster.

Your body is working hard to create an ideal environment for creating a human being, and it needs to be conducive to keeping a growing fetus clean and healthy.

Another big reason that you have to pee more is that your uterus is growing.

Although it may not seem like anything is happening inside you quite yet, there’s more happening than you could imagine. Your uterus is going through more changes now than at any other time during your pregnancy, short of your delivery time.

Thankfully, in your second trimester, your baby (and your uterus) will lift up into your abdominal cavity and relieve some of the pressure on your bladder for a little while.

Whatever you do, keep drinking all of that water. As important as water is to a nonpregnant individual, it is even more important for a woman that is pregnant!

First Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms
First Trimester Pregnancy Symptoms | Source

Extreme Tiredness

Of course you’re tired! Think about everything we’ve already discussed that’s happening inside your body right now.

“Your pregnant body is working harder even when you’re resting than a nonpregnant body is when mountain-climbing; you’re just not aware of the exertion” (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 2002).

It takes a lot of work, even if you can’t see it, to manufacture the life support system that your baby will depend upon for the next nine months, including building your uterine lining and developing your baby’s placenta, not to mention growing a human being.

Whether you like it or not, you will start to feel the need to sleep more, maybe take naps in the afternoon, and you won’t be able to go for as long, or at the same pace, that you did prior to conception.

I’m used to walking my dogs for a few miles at a good speed every day to every other day. Now I get winded, getting really fatigued, and start cramping really bad after half of that at a slow pace.

It may be easier to consider not that you aren’t exercising quite as much, but instead that your body is exercising all the time with as hard as it’s working 24/7 now.

Consider laying back on a pillow on the couch and putting your feet in the air for ten minute breaks every so often. It works wonders!!

Nausea (Otherwise Known as Morning Sickness)

Did you know that little more than one-half of pregnant women get morning sickness? Hopefully, you will be one of those lucky ones not to get it.

If you do get morning sickness, it could range from short bouts of nausea during the day without any actual sickness, all the way to tossing your cookies several times a day every day.

But why? Wouldn’t all of that puking hurt the baby and possibly cause a miscarriage? Not at all.

In fact, it rarely interferes with proper nutrition, as long as you make an effort to make up for it by eating quality foods and gaining back that weight after the morning sickness is over.

So what causes it? Actually, all of the different processes and hormones going on in your body w=right now can be blamed.

The high level of the pregnancy hormone in your body during the first trimester, your elevated estrogen levels, the stretching and relaxing of different muscles and systems in your body right now, and even the enhanced sense of smell some women develop are all, in some way, stimulating the part of your brain that controls nausea and vomiting.

This overstimulation by all systems and processes in your body in the first trimester of pregnancy causes this response. Thank goodness I am one of those lucky women to only get a few seconds of nausea once a day every day.

You can rest assured that the majority of women that do experience “morning sickness” will get over it at the beginning of the second trimester.

First trimester pregnancy symptoms
First trimester pregnancy symptoms | Source

Lower Back Aches

Funny enough, starting at around three to five weeks pregnant, before you’d think you’d have problems like this, many pregnant women experience serious lower back pain, usually when relaxing or sitting and working.

At this point in your pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin being released in your body causes your ligaments to stretch and your joints to loosen.

This is all normal and is a result of your body trying to prepare you for the belly and the baby that are to come soon in your future.

Your body has a great deal of work to do not only to prepare for taking care of a growing infant but also to prepare you and your body for pregnancy.

Your body changes a great deal at this time whether you know it or not. Your ribs and chest will likely be expanding a bit, the bones in your pelvis are going to widen, and every other bone in your body, especially your back, have to prepare for the weight that you will be carrying.

Instead of doing this all at once when your baby absolutely needs the room, putting you in the hospital for the excruciating pain you would be feeling, it does it gradually a little at a time.

Unfortunately, that means that, even at so early a stage in your pregnancy, you are already feeling the “growing pains” associated with all of this preparation.

Heating pads, massage, and taking frequent breaks to sit back on a pillow and put your feet up will greatly help. Take heart knowing that this pain will likely subside in a few weeks.

Acne

Although you hear about the “glow” emitted by most women during pregnancy, this is usually just the initial excitement of finding out that they’re pregnant in the first trimester.

The real “glow” that can be seen physically in how beautiful many pregnant women seem, doesn’t normally come until a little later and results from the increased secretion of oils brought about by intense hormonal changes in your body.

In the first trimester, however, this increased hormone production normally just makes you break out in ways you don’t normally.

The day before I took my pregnancy test, I broke out all across my forehead. My forehead!! I don’t get acne on my forehead.

This was a great sign of something changing in my body before I had even officially taken the test.

Throughout your first trimester, if this is something you are suffering from, it will probably come and go.

I suggest taking showers rather than baths and using a mild soapless cleanser to wash (like Cetaphil) rather than your normal soap, to keep your skin from drying out.

It may also help to adopt a nice lotion and make sure that you moisturize from head to toe every day to keep this from being a problem on your forehead, on your back, or anywhere else this may become an issue.

First trimester pregnancy symptoms
First trimester pregnancy symptoms | Source

Pregnancy is a big deal, and your body knows it. It’s going through a great deal right now to provide an environment that is safe and nourishing to your new baby, and to prepare your body to carry and take care of a new growing little one.

Don’t be surprised if you see big changes even in the first handful of weeks of your new pregnancy, as this is completely normal.

If you’re experiencing headaches, cramps, backaches, nausea, and other annoying and painful symptoms right now, consider yourself blessed to have the gift of pregnancy. I know it doesn’t feel like much of a blessing right now, but it will all be worth it.

While many of the symptoms you are experiencing will go away at the beginning of the second trimester, there will be a whole new host of wonderful ailments to remind you that you are part of the most incredible part of nature, growing a human being inside of you

Try to find something positive in all of this, and know that your future is going to be even more exciting!

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© 2014 Victoria Van Ness

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    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thanks and congratulations! Pregnancy is exciting no matter who it is that's pregnant. :) I really appreciate your story and comments!

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 

      4 years ago from Indiana

      I found out several months ago I'm about to become a first time grandma. I've been re-living my own pregnancies while watching my daughter navigate the waters you are writing about. What an exciting time for you, and how nice you'll have a collections of hubs as a pregnancy journal. Congratulations and best wishes!

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      lol I've heard every woman is completely different, especially when it comes to cravings and food aversions. At least you didn't have to worry about craving dirt or charcoal. :) Thanks for the comment!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 

      4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I can't complained of the symptoms of the beginning of the pregnancy. I had a little bit of nausea in the morning for a few months. My husband prepared me an apple each morning when I wake up. The strangest thing that happened to me was that I couldn't stand to have mixed ingredients in my plate... I never understood that one :-)

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Very! But we're being cautious to make sure we make it all the way through our first trimester. :) Thanks!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 

      4 years ago from USA

      Congratulations to you and your husband. You must be so excited.

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Oh man. That doesn't sound pleasant at all. I think I would have stuck with just one child too. :-)

      Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate the comments.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 years ago from USA

      Great information for the newly expectant. It sure brings back the memories. I vomited for 5 months, even in response to watermelon and bananas. And the migraines. I spent months lying on the floor attempting to keep the food from coming back up and the light out of my eyes. Needless to say, I have one child. Don't let the bad stories like mine ruin your joy.

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Lol Thanks Amie! I appreciate your thoughtful suggestions. :)

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 

      4 years ago from Warwick, NY

      I am a mom! I have three kids. My advice is to enjoy your babies... they grow fast!

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thank you! I sure hope so! I have many more topics in mind to cover too. :) Thank you for your input.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Congratulations on your pregnancy, Victoria! This must be an exciting time for you. Your hub will be very useful for women who are pregnant for the first time.

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thank you so much for your insight!! We're you ever concerned about a miscarriage? If so, when did you feel like you were in the safe zone? :) I ask only because I've loved your insights into all of my articles!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Great article for those who are just pregnant for the first time. I had terrible morning sickness in both of my pregnancies for five months. I could not stand the smell of hamburger meat and it just made me sick. I could not get a thing, not even a cracker and just a sip of water. The doctor said that the baby would be okay and just take nutrients from my body, which I why one feels so tired. I made up for lost time after the five months, and ate everything in sight! LOL

      Up and more and sharing.

      Blessings,

      Faith Reaper

    • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thank you Amie! I sure hope so. You sound like a mother. How many kids do you have? :) Any motherly advice you have to pass on?

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments!

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 

      4 years ago from Warwick, NY

      I am so happy you are experiencing all these wonderful symptoms! Being pregnant sure does come with a variety of difficulties in the feeling good department! I love that you are keeping perspective and I feel this article will be very useful to first time pregnant women! It is truly amazing what the body can do! Try to enjoy... it really is a very interesting time.

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